SoundPEATS RunFree Open-Ear Sport Bluetooth Headphones review

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REVIEW – I have a confession to make.  I really don’t like the kind of headphones that wrap around behind your head and then insert into your ears because they generally irritated my ears and usually hurt my head in that spot just behind your ears. So when I saw the SoundPEATS RunFree Open-Ear Sports Headphones I wasn’t initially interested until I saw that the design was ‘open-ear’.  Maybe having the speakers just hovering outside my ears would be ok? Let’s find out what happened!

What is it?

A Bluetooth headset that wraps around the back of your head and hangs on your ears, with the speakers hovering just outside your ears.

What’s in the box?

  • The SoundPEATS headset
  • A USB-C charging cable
  • A user manual

Tech specs

  • Bluetooth: V5.3
  • Chipset: ATS3019E + HT97220
  • Supported Bluetooth Codec: SBC,AAC
  • Battery Capacity: 140mAH
  • Charging Time: 1.6 hours
  • Charging Port: Type-C
  • Total Playtime: 14 hours
  • Weight: 1.1 oz
  • Waterproof Rating: IPX4

Features and performance

The RunFree headset is the kind of design that wraps around the back of your head and hooks onto your ears.  The 16.2mm driver speakers hover just outside your ear canal instead of inserting into your ears, so it is pretty comfortable in that regard.  In fact, weighing in at 1.1 oz, it is so light that I could easily forget that I was wearing it when I wasn’t listening to something.  It is made of soft silicon, so that adds to the comfort as well. As far as how it looks, well, I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Other headsets of this type of design are going to be, in general, a little more minimalist in my experience. If you look at the pics you’ll see that there are 2 oblong parts of the RunFree that hang on your ear. The front part hovers outside your ear, and that part contains the 16.2mm driver speakers.  The other part is behind and below the ear, and that part (on the right side only) contains the controls. More on that below. So I would say that some folks will find the RunFree a little funny looking, but I don’t much care about that, so I think it is just fine!

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The part of the headset that hovers over your ears has no buttons or controls on it. As an aside, I have tested many headsets and earbuds over the years that have touch controls, and I will go on record (again) saying that I hate touch controls on gadgets like headsets and earbuds that you can’t look at while touching them.  The errant touches are just too much for me. So with the RunFree I enjoy the physical buttons that it comes with.  The buttons are located on the right side of the headset, and they are located on the part that hangs just behind and below the ear. I also like that the buttons are not located on the flat outside part of the headset, but instead on the side of it.  That means when you are messing around with the fit you won’t accidentally press one of the buttons. There are 3 buttons… volume up, volume down, and a play button.  And of course, like other gadgets, you press each of those buttons in different ways to get access to all the functions (those are detailed in the user manual).  (FYI… rather than give you a close-up of my hairy ear, I post below one of the manufacturer’s product photos to show how the RunFree hangs on your ears.)

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The purpose of the RunFree headset is in the name itself.  This is meant for folks who want to do physical activities while wearing it… running, walking, etc. And it works great in that regard, because you’ll never fear that it will fall off your head.  It stays firmly in place no matter how much your head moves around. This type of design, with the open ear speakers, also has some drawbacks.

The main drawback is that the open ear design enables those around you to hear the sound. That could be a problem, depending on the situation.  It’s great, of course, if you are running in a busy environment like a street where you need to be able to hear some sound around you for safety purposes. But it’s not so great in an environment like an office where you don’t want to disturb those around you or you need privacy on a phone call.  I will also comment at this point that the quality of phone calls with the RunFree is pretty much average. While I was taking calls outside using the RunFree, the callers on the other end reported to me that wind and street noise was pretty obvious, although not enough to make the call untenable. But it was enough of a noise disturbance to say that I think the RunFree call ability is simply a feature that you have available, but you won’t use it much for calls.

As far as sound quality goes, I was very pleased with the performance and quality as I was listening to music.  I use it daily when I go outside, like walking the dog and exercising, and walking to my office in the neighborhood. Because of the open ear design, I never experienced deep base sounds, or crystal clear highs either.  I think that this type of design isn’t really designed for a sound that is deep and full. It’s designed to provide you music while you are working out, and it does that great. You won’t be reaching for the RunFree when you want to listen to that new album you have been waiting to hear so you can experience all the highs and lows in the music. So the quality of sound could be described as solidly middle-of-the-road. You won’t be disappointed, but you also won’t ask your friends to ‘listen to the sound of this headset!’, if that makes sense.

Battery life on the RunFree is actually pretty impressive.  Using the headset for say a couple of hours a day will get you around a week of use before you have to recharge it. SoundPEATS says it will last 14 hours, and that is realistic in my experience.  I imagine that large oblong part that hangs behind your ears is what does that!  Charging time will take between 1.5 and 2 hours in my experience.

The RunFree also works with the SoundPEATS companion app.  I inserted a couple of screenshots below. You can control a few things in the app, like the sound volume and some equalizer settings, and it shows you the battery life remaining, which is helpful. Interestingly, the app has a feature where you can test your ability to hear various frequency sounds so that it can (supposedly) customize what your hear based on your personal ability to hear certain levels of frequency.  It was neat, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t hear any difference in sound when I switched between my personal customized EQ setting and the ‘SoundPEATS Classic’ setting.  Maybe it will make a difference for you though.

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Finally, I should mention that the RunFree headset does not come with any kind of carrying case or pouch.  I suppose at a price point of $39.99 (on Amazon) I shouldn’t complain, but the icing on the cake would have been some sort of carrying case. But I can live without that at this price point, which is really great for what you get.

What I like about SoundPEATS RunFree headphones

  • Good sound
  • Companion smartphone app
  • Great battery life
  • Great price

What I would change

  • It doesn’t come with any kind of carrying case
  • Phone call quality could be better
  • No fast-charging USB capability

Final thoughts

If you like to listen to music when you work out or run, then the SoundPEATS RunFree headphones are a great option for you.  The open-ear design means that you’ll be able to listen to your tunes while still hearing some outside sound from the environment you are in, which is a plus for safety. But keep in mind that this type of design means that in certain environments, like open offices, that people around you will be able to hear the sound coming from the headset, which might not be a good situation. And this headset is designed for listening to media, not making phone calls. So the ability to make calls works, but in my opinion it is just an added feature so you can take a quick call if you need to. For this price point the SoundPEATS is a great choice with solid all-around sound with features that you’ll be pleased with, and a long battery life!

Price: $39.99
Where to buy: Amazon or SoundPEATS
Source: The sample of this product was provided by SoundPEATS. SoundPEATS did not have a final say on the review and did not preview the review before it was published.

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